The Importance of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month


Charlise Lin and Chloe Hu

The month of May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month (AAPI), it’s “important because it’s an overlooked group, but also it’s a poorly represented group more than anything.” says senior Claire Austin. AAPI month has celebrated the heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide since 1992. This month is an opportunity for people to connect with their roots, and come together to educate each other around their heritage and cultures. Having a designated time to celebrate is especially important for often overlooked minorities. 

Terra Linda Math Teacher, William Luong states, “a lot of times people see us as a sort of model minority that doesn’t really need support or acknowledgment, and I feel like we really do.” Many Asian Americans and Pacific Islander students at TL have commented that they’ve had trouble finding themselves represented and spoken for whether it be in books, media, or in the percentages of the populations. TL’s sophomore Sahaj Malik says, “it [AAPI month] means a lot as an Asian and it’s nice to represent my culture.”

Terra Linda sophomore, Kayla Modolo, acknowledges, “It’s [AAPI month] a time to recognize many different cultures. I think it’s good for us to have a month to celebrate those different cultures.” This is a time when everyone can come together to celebrate the differences in cultures and embrace them. Austin advocates AAPI month is a time for, “Breaking stereotypes, and focusing on unheard or misrepresented voices that wouldn’t be focused on, during other times of the year.” Celebrating and listening to those voices may give a hard-to-come-by opportunity to learn something new.

Various students at Terra Linda High School have helped celebrate AAPI month in numerous ways. This year, Terra Linda High School’s Asian Student Union, or ASU, organized a Culture Day, showcasing a variety of  Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. When asked if she’d contributed anything to the Asian community this month, TL Sophomore Kelera Vuli stated, “I have, I helped out with culture day activities and my country was Fiji and I learned a lot about other countries.” Vuli was not the only one to celebrate in this way. Freshman Kayli Chen, also participated in this school event, assisting in organizing a table to educate people about Chinese culture through mooncake making, and trivia.

Austin notes that Asians and Pacific Islanders are a significantly underrepresented demographic at TL, and states, “I’d say, the curriculum and teaching people about, or even offering an Asian studies program, we don’t have that. We also don’t have any language classes.” She observes how private schools often offer some Asian languages or programs, but many students at TL find those resources hard to come by, as they are not provided or advertised in our course selection. She acknowledges that the school can’t do much about California’s required curriculum, however adds, “a language class would be cool because I know a lot of people who would be interested in learning, especially for students who do speak those languages or have heard it in their homes or like feel disconnected by it, that’s a way to connect the community.” 

Many students agree that very little was done to celebrate AAPI heritage this month on campus. On May 16, 2023, ASU held their first Culture Day event, which shared unique cultures from all around the world. They hope to see more effort from students and staff in the future, and more events in addition to Culture Day, spotlighting Asian and Pacific Islander culture and amplifying their voices. Luong suggests, “…a dance or something like that… it’d be a great way to end the year.” Chen hopes to have another event similar to Culture Day, but bigger. Sophomore, Sahaj Malik, also proposes that “there could be maybe more culture day, posters and just like little things that make a difference.” Austin agrees, urging school administration to put more effort into representing AAPI during this month.